Chapter 539: A person without a name
“I lived by the seaside when I was young. I saw fishermen going out to sea. Sometimes, people would be unable to escape the winds and the tides. When the boats didn’t return, their family members would know that something had happened to them because this sort of thing was always happening. I saw many women, elderly and children weeping sorrowfully by the seaside. So, why must you enter the eye of a storm that you can clearly avoid?”
The car sped along the expressway, maintaining that maximum speed below the speed limit. Ling Xiao was very good at driving and also, as Xu Tingsheng had guessed, was very serious when doing so, cherishing her life greatly. Gazing forward, she suddenly muttered this out loud as if to herself. This way, her words would not sound threatening to anyone.
As their opponent, it was impossible that Ling Xiao did not understand the relationship between Xu Tingsheng and Fang Yuqing. Therefore, he felt that he had no need to reply to her words.
“You won’t stop even if we don’t touch that plot of land?! There’s really no motivation for personal gain?” Ling Xiao muttered again, sounding rather down and uncomprehending.
Might he be motivated by personal gain? Perhaps not initially, but afterwards? Xu Tingsheng was brought to consider this question for the first time. He pondered for a while and ultimately concluded that yes, he was.
He wished desperately to grow. Experience, composure, methods...he wanted them all. He had previously felt that he was not this sort of person, not pushing himself to be like this too. Yet, he suddenly wished so much now that he could be like those fully confident people who were ever unfazed by what befell them. If he was defeated, he wished to fall because of his lack of ability and not because he had not grown or was ignorant. He also sought a stronger background and foundation. The Fang family aside, he had never made any efforts in this area before this. It was different now.
Xu Tingsheng could not deny that the reason for this was what that mysterious woman, Zhou Yuandai, had said at the airport: There’s not much time remaining. You shouldn’t dawdle.
While the phrase itself was common, it inexplicably felt like a threat or warning, having remained on Xu Tingsheng’s mind throughout like an indelible stain.
“Did she guess something? What does she want to do? What can she do?...”
Ling Xiao fell silent following her two failed attempts. Xu Tingsheng was also simply unwilling to speak due to all that was weighing on his mind as he just smoked one cigarette after another. The two were not friends in the first place as they were enemies even. This seemed natural.
The journey from Yanzhou to Xihu City was around an hour by car. Time flew by in silence.
As the wind blew some ashes that Xu Tingsheng failed to flick away in time onto her white blouse, Ling Xiao finally turned and said, “Hey, you…”
Regaining his wits, Xu Tingsheng was momentarily dazed before he instinctively threw that cigarette out of the car window and said rather awkwardly, “Sorry, it was my oversight.”
“No. I just wanted to ask-Can you give me one too?” Ling Xiao asked earnestly as she drove earnestly too.
“Huh?! Didn’t you say that in order to give birth…” Xu Tingsheng looked at her rather puzzledly.
“To be honest, I actually don’t really believe all that. I remember that my mother once told me: With my family already having three sons that year, my father actually had no plans of birthing another. It was just that one day, he and two war buddies smoked and drank till very late. Only drunk...did he have me. But look, I’m still very smart and very healthy,” Ling Xiao chuckled a bit exaggeratedly to transit over that self-praise before continuing, “I only listened because that was what they said and I just followed it. But I suddenly feel like smoking now. Give me one then, will you.”
Xu Tingsheng held out the box of cigarettes and a lighter.
“I’m driving,” Ling Xiao said, “Light it for me.”
Xu Tingsheng could only take out a cigarette, making as if to stuff it in her mouth.
Such an action left both parties feeling a little awkward and at a loss.
Ling Xiao shot him a look, saying despondently, “Forget it, you take over the wheel at the rest stop up front.”
The two stopped at the rest stop to smoke. Afterwards, it was Xu Tingsheng’s turn to drive. Ling Xiao watched on very nervously for a while. As this was his first time driving a Maserati, Xu Tingsheng dared not drive fast as he drove very cautiously. Ling Xiao was very satisfied with this attitude of his.
And so the latter half of the journey comprised of Xu Tingsheng driving and Ling Xiao smoking one cigarette after another.
“Something on your mind?” Xu Tingsheng ventured.
“Focus on the road,” Ling Xiao reminded before saying, “It’s just that I suddenly feel rather envious after seeing you. I once hoped and thought that I would become someone like you…”
While speaking, she brought a cigarette over to Xu Tingsheng’s lips.
Only after clamping his lips over it did Xu Tingsheng realise that the cigarette was alit. As it would be too impolite to spit it out on the spot, he could only smoke it just like that.
Ling Xiao turned to gaze at the side of his face before suddenly bursting into laughter, bending over in amusement. If Xu Tingsheng were to step on the brakes right now, she would literally end up toppling headfirst...she was wearing a skirt.
“What is it?” Xu Tingsheng felt rather bewildered at being laughed at.
Ling Xiao straightened, one hand covering her mouth as she laughed while retrieving the cigarette that was in his mouth.
Then, she pointed out a spot of redness to him and said triumphantly, “I purposely applied very thick lipstick just now...and imprinted it on the cigarette. Now, you...haha, your lips are so red…”
She happied away like a little girl who had just pulled off a successful prank. Only afterwards, noticing Xu Tingsheng’s rather awkward expression, did she realise the intimacy of that act.
After a short silence, Ling Xiao broke the air by jokingly saying, “Ah, maybe I shouldn’t have told you. See how you explain to your little girlfriend afterwards…”
Surprised, Xu Tingsheng asked alertly, “You people know even this?”
“Of Yanzhou’s higher circles, who doesn’t know this?” Ling Xiao retorted before saying, “It’s just that you’ve never offended anyone, so everyone left it alone and gave you face. Still, it looks as if a group of people has wasted their time. Over the past few months, there’s a group of people who’ve been eating specifically at your father-in-law’s restaurant rather than elsewhere, merely hoping to run into you there and let you know that they’re giving you face, thus improving their ties with you. It’s not that your status is really to that extent, but that you’re really too good at earning money. It’s like the new gambler at Vegas who always wins every hand. Who won’t follow in hopes of rolling in the dough?”
Xu Tingsheng pondered for a moment before asking, “Is this one of the reasons you lot would like for me to stay out of this affair?”
Ling Xiao answered frankly, “Yes. Under circumstances like this, so long as the slightest event happens on our side and we fall at a disadvantage, there will be people frantically leaning towards you in the hopes of giving timely assistance and getting you indebted to them.”
Xu Tingsheng nodded.
“Actually, you had best pay attention to this. I think that if someone really wants to fish in turbid waters and do something underhanded, they may target the young lady. We won’t, but that doesn’t mean others won’t,” Ling Xiao added.
Whether these words were false or true, sincere or insincere, a reminder or a distraction, good-intentioned or a threat...Xu Tingsheng had no way of judging it, and naturally could not respond too.
Remembering this but not letting his expression change, Xu Tingsheng deliberately changed the topic, asking, “Right, you said that your current name is just the surnames of the two families put together. What was your original name then?”
While this was just a topic he had randomly found, Ling Xiao seemed to visibly deflate in response, looking downcast.
“I think that I’m actually someone without a name. From ever since I can remember, I’ve always been called Ling Xiao. This was used to signify the coalition between the Ling and Xiao families. Ever since I was very young, everyone always emphasised to me that I’m called Ling Xiao, like because I’m the shared daughter of the Ling and Xiao families, with two Mums, two Dads, and no other degree of separation.”
“You must have had a name before that.”
“Maybe, but no one’s ever told it to me before. Even if I asked. They’d never say.”
“You guess one then.”
“Huh? Guess? ...Okay. Well, I guess...Ling Xiaoqing? ...Ling Xiaocui? Ling Xiaohua?”
“Ling Lingqi.” (007)
“Well then, hello, Ling Xiaoqing. Making your acquaintance, my name is Xu Tingsheng.”
“Huh? I...hello. I am Ling, Ling, Ling...Ling Xiaoqing.”
Ling Xiao had a name. Having come from her enemy.Previous Chapter Next Chapter